Building your own sauna requires some special materials, but most handy homeowners have the skills to turn those materials into a perfect private retreat.
If you’re a do it yourselfer, we can provide you with a complete set of supplies to get your project started, including:
- Cedar paneling and boards
- Reflective foil
We can also guide you along the way to ensure the best layout for your home or cottage while adhering to building code requirements for your area.
DON’T SKIMP ON THE RIGHT MATERIALS
Cedar is the most common due to an inherent stability that swells and shrinks less in a sauna than any other type of wood. Cedar will also maintain its natural colour in the humidity of the sauna better than any other wood, especially when properly sealed. Poplar and spruce are also commonly used. Wood that is clear of knots is preferred however small tight knots are acceptable. Large knots swell and contract with the heat and could ooze sap. Eventually the bigger knots might fall out leaving a hole.
Reflective foil is installed behind the paneling to reflect heat back to the sauna, where you want it. This is stapled to studs. Then staggered strapping material is installed over this to which the cedar paneling is attached. The strapping creates an airspace to allow air movement behind the cedar to ensure moisture doesn’t get trap and create mold.
For flooring, use a material such as tile or an epoxy system like Kromotex for an easy to clean surface. Where warm feet come in contact with the cold floor, a wooden duckboard is traditionally used, although easier to clean vinyl products are now also available..
Light fixtures need to be water resistant. Use a marine type light with a moisture gasket. A glass cover is good if it is located high and out of reach of water splashes. A plastic cover is good if it is low and where water may come in contact. Plastic in high areas could melt or produce off gases. Glass low could shatter upon cold water contact on warm glass.
Sauna doors are traditionally smaller than standard residential doors. You can utilize a gap at the bottom of the door for fresh air ventilation. A small detail – the door should swing outward, not into the sauna.
PLANNING THE SIZE OF YOUR SAUNA ROOM
A big sauna is a big burden. Keep your sauna room smaller. To make the best use of the space, plan for 2 levels of benches at around 20” each plus the space for your heater and a buffer of 4 or 5” on all sides (except the mounting wall) of your heater.
Consider how many people will be using the sauna at one time. You need 24” per person of bench length. Your main bench wall should be long enough to accommodate you laying down. The ideal home sauna size is a room 6 feet wide, 5 feet deep, 7 feet tall, but can be smaller if space is tight.
You need some airflow in the sauna. It will help your heater work best and add to your comfort. It also helps to ventilate post-sauna to rid of excess moisture. We recommend a non-adjustable vent installed in the wall beneath the heater. Some designs leave air space beneath the bottom of the door.
The choice of heater depends on whether you are building an indoor or outdoor and its size. Outdoor saunas are typically wood-burning if permitted by your insurance company. Otherwise an electric heater will do the job. Indoor saunas are only electric these days to qualify for insurance coverage. The cubic volume of the sauna will determine the kilowatt size of your heater. Electric saunas more than 450 cubic feet will need heavier electrical wiring. Consider using commercial grade heaters for optimal performance. Wood burning heaters have a series of clearances that need to be met for code compliance. As wood burning heater dimensions differ, best to come see us for your clearances. Our specially trained staff can walk you through the process.
Once you’ve planned out your sauna and drawn up a layout, let us ensure it is the most efficient use of space considering seating, traffic flow and safety. We’ll ensure you have all the supplies to complete your project. Contact us today to give your new sauna building project the best start.